Six SAN shoot-out

Summary:Managing data storage is just as much of a task (or greater) as managing the servers themselves. It makes sense to centralise management in larger organisations wherever possible. Enter the storage area network (SAN).

(Credit: HP)

HP LeftHand P4300

The HP LeftHand Starter pack consists of a pair of 2RU devices built for function rather than beauty — as would be expected for a server-room machine. As provided to Enex, each unit holds eight 300GB SAS drives plus a DVD ROM drive. Thus the total capacity is 4.8TB. A 12TB SATA version of this SAN is also available. The number of drives is expandable from 16 to 256 with the addition of extra nodes. Each unit has dual active/active controllers.

Clustering of storage units provides for a straightforward expansion of the SAN. Data is striped and mirrored across all volumes in the cluster, preventing a failure in a node resulting in data loss. Thus larger organisations can benefit from very impressive data stability. When adding extra storage units to the SAN the system can remain online, reducing maintenance downtime. Thin provisioning eliminates the need to predict the amount of space each volume may require in the future. Additionally, administrators can choose to set redundancy on a per-volume basis (up to four times).

Given the capability and scalability of this product the user interface is convenient to use. Basic configuration of the SAN, including IP address, is initially configured under a simple text interface on the SAN itself — which allows for direct keyboard and monitor connection. The majority of the device set-up is then configured via a GUI installed on a server.

Inside the box, everything is well laid out for easy access during maintenance. Hot-swappable parts such as fans, drives and power supplies are easy to remove.

The HP appears to support just about every OS known to man, including Windows, Linux, Citrix, OS Snow Leopard, IBM AIX, HP-UX, VMware, Novell and Solaris.

Due to its size (at least in part) this set-up is quite power hungry — 293W per unit. HP provides a three-year on-site warranty with next day service and nine-to-five software support.

The good

  • Very good expandability in terms of ease and scale
  • Excellent OS support
  • Thin provisioning

The bad

  • Standard support contact includes office hours only

The bottom line
If there was FC support, HP LeftHand P4300 would be fabulous.

Topics: Dell, EMC, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Storage

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